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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Strategies for Prayer -- ninth in a series (environment)

Lord, teach us to pray (Luke 11.1)

I am sometimes easily distracted during my time with Jesus, so I developed a strategy to mitigate the frequency and length of those distractions. My technique deals with the environment of prayer, which I think is just as important as the style of those prayers. 

1. The Lord Jesus said, “When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret” (Matthew 6:6). I use a spare room as my “prayer closet,” where I can close the door and keep myself as free from potential distractions as possible. It’s furnished sparsely with only a couch, footrest, small table and a lamp. Across from the couch I placed a crucifix, which becomes the typical focal point of my prayers.

2. Although I spend time with the Lord both morning and evening, my most quality time is in the morning, before I’ve looked at my email or spent time on the computer. Looking to Jesus the first thing after I get out of bed helps keep my mind uncluttered and free from the distractions waiting for me when I move into the day’s business.

3. Part of my time in prayer includes reading and meditating on Scripture. I keep three versions of the Bible (NAB, NASB and NKJV) beside me, as well as a concordance* and lexicon.** During my meditation I might think of an idea or Scripture I read in another place in the Bible. The concordance helps me find it when I can remember only a portion of it. Also, while reading I might become curious how a particular verse is translated in another version, or how the original Greek or Hebrew is used in other places in Scripture. That’s where the other versions and the lexicon are useful.

4. I keep a notepad and pen at my side. It is more the norm than the rarity that while in prayer an idea pops into my head about some task I need to do later that day, or a Scripture I want to memorize, catches my attention. I take a few seconds to jot the ‘to do’ items on the pad, so I won’t forget them. Having written them down, I can then return to my meeting with Jesus. I also keep with me the CDs,  Rosary, prayer lists, alphabet prayers, and other tools I’ve mentioned in earlier posts – all of which help keep my heart focused on prayer.

I try to order everything in my prayer ‘environment’ to keep distractions at a minimum, and my strategies have proved largely successful in decreasing the frequency and length those distractions.

Perhaps my ideas will be useful for you, as well.

* A concordance is a list of key words and their immediate contexts. Many Bibles include a concordance (usually in the back, after the maps).
** A lexicon – in this case, a Bible lexicon – lists all the Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic words used in the Bible, along with their definitions and uses elsewhere in Scripture.  


Anonymous said...

Thanks Rich! I'm giving a presentation on prayer to our RCIA group next Sunday and I will use your suggestions! Great to be back - need to catch up on your posts. Happy Thanksgiving!

Richard Maffeo said...

Welcome back, Andie. And I am glad you find some of my suggestions helpful. Hope your class does, too.
Happy Thanksgiving.